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Film review: We Need to Talk About Kevin

27 Oct

we need to talk about kevinTranslating epistolary literature into cinema can be very difficult because the form, by its nature, is highly episodic, a much bigger issue on the big screen than on the page. We Need To Talk About Kevin skilfully navigates this problem by cutting up the narrative and operating in several different timeframes simultaneously. The early marital bliss of Eva (a career best Tilda Swinton) and Franklin (John C Reilly) contrasts with Eva’s attempts in the present to live without her family in the aftermath of an horrific event everyone seems to blame her for. We watch Eva bringing up their detached, manipulative and sociopathic son Kevin. That he hides his deviance from his Father pushes Eva’s ability to cope to breaking point. But the two share a strange chemistry which is in part what makes the film so riveting. We Need To Talk About Kevin is not an easy watch but it is a fascinating examination of a disturbing relationship, superbly acted and confidently directed by Lynne Ramsey.

Director: Lynne Ramsey

Rating: 4/5

Review by Garreth Hynes

Film review: Tyrannosaur

12 Oct

tyrannosaur_film_imageAnother British film exploring themes of rage and spiralling self-destruction is enough to make any cinemagoer shudder. Yet this assured directorial debut from actor Paddy Considine pulls off the minor miracle of making a film that is both moving and rewarding while never shying away from the appalling brutality that shapes its characters.

Joseph (Peter Mullan) is a man plagued with violence and self-hatred who is first introduced to us drunkenly kicking his own dog to death. Hannah (Olivia Colman) is a charity shop worker trapped in a marriage with a cruel and controlling husband (the terrifying Eddie Marsan).  A tentative relationship develops between Joseph and Hannah that provides them both with an escape from the harsh reality of their shattered lives. Will their connection and mutual support bring them redemption or are they forever trapped in a cycle of seething anger and destruction? With mesmerising performances across the board, a film that explores such intense themes really should be a depressing experience. This one isn’t. In fact it may just be the best British film of the year – and there’s nothing depressing about that.

Director: Paddy Considine

Rating 4/5

Film review: Red State

5 Oct

Red-State-posterA rain of fire and brimstone falls upon three horny college kids when they fall into the clutches of crazy preacher, Abin Cooper (Michael Parks) and his demented congregation.  As the preacher’s heavily armed church is laid to siege, ATF agent Joe Keenan (John Goodman) finds himself questioning the orders of his equally fanatical government bosses.  The director of Clerks returns with this rather uneven mixture of horror film and religious satire (Smith tackled the subject of religion much more successfully in his 1999 film Dogma).  A startling twist towards the end of Red State nearly pulls off a literal miracle but all this is very quickly abandoned and tied up in a rather rushed ending.  It’s a shame really but anything from Smith that isn’t Jersey Girl is probably a godsend itself.

Director: Kevin Smith

Rating: 3/5

Review by Ewan Fraser

Film review: Drive

26 Sep

ryan gosling -drive movie

Dir: Nicolas Winding Refn

A film where rubber burns and bad guys are slapped around normally stars the great modern thespians such as Vin Diesel or Jason Statham. Yet Drive is a different beast entirely. This is a European spin on the American action movie starring a versatile young actor at the peak of his game (yes, even more versatile than Diesel or Statham!) Ryan Gosling is ‘Driver’, a Hollywood stuntman by day and a getaway driver by night. This quietly intense loner gets a glimpse of another life when he falls for his neighbour, Irene (Carey Mulligan), yet ‘Driver’ is a criminal and as we all know crime never pays. With its 80s electronic soundtrack and pink font titles this slickly made L.A. noir has cult classic written all over it. Gosling does his best Steve McQueen impression while Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman provide a credible threat as the gangsters ready to run ‘Driver’ off the road. This is a brutal yet visually stunning revenge drama from the director best known for the Pusher trilogy and Bronson. If you’re a bit squeamish be warned (Nicolas Winding Refn does have a thing about heads being bashed in) but if you’re made of stronger stuff then strap in and enjoy the ride.

Rating: 4/5

Review by Ewan Fraser

Film review: Warrior

26 Sep

warriorDir: Gavin O’Connor

Sometimes beating your brother senseless really is the only way to show that you love him. This crowd-pleasing piece of nonsense makes no attempt to break any new ground but as The Wrestler and The Fighter showed there’s still mileage left in a good old-fashioned underdog story. Estranged brothers, Tommy (Tom Hardy) and Brendan (Joel Edgerton) find themselves all oiled up and ready for the ultimate family reunion when their paths cross in a mixed martial arts championship. Will they find forgiveness and redemption in the fighting ring? It doesn’t take a crystal ball to work out. Happily bulldozing through every sports movie cliché going, Warrior is only redeemed by the performances of its two beefcake leads and an outstanding turn from Nick Nolte as their recovering-alcoholic father. A must for all fans of the Rocky movies, it’s hard not to admire a film that so successfully pummels the audience into submission. Now tap it out!

Rating: 4/5

Review by Ewan Fraser

Flick Pick: Troll Hunter

22 Sep

Troll HunterThis mock documentary has been likened many times to The Blair Witch Project. I find this comparison both patronising and, frankly, bullshite. Patronising because these critics clearly think the general public can’t differentiate between two movies made by pretend students with hand-held cameras. And bullshite because one is a quirky, brilliantly humoured Norwegian adventure and the other is (was) a ground-breaking, but ultimately, not-that-great horror.

Troll Hunter follows a crew of students as they attempt to track down a rogue bear poacher. It soon becomes apparent that they are in fact hunting someone else all together and the story sweeps you up on a 4-wheel-drive through the fjords and beyond.

Director André Øvredal has taken a fairytale subject, removed it of any fluffiness and presented it with a glint in his eye. The acting is superb and the cleverly grainy CGI’d trolls are wonderfully believable to the point that this surreal subject seems completely down-to-earth. This film is humerous, different and magical. What a breathe of fresh-air in this age of ‘gritty’ and farcicle shoot-em-ups. As Little White Lies suggests, make sure you see this before the Americans re-make it…

See the trailer here.

May’s flick of the month

19 May Attack the Block

Attack the BlockAttack the Block  

There’s been a whole lotta hype about this one – and for good reason: we have a new Brit director out there in the moviesphere. Feedback from Joe Cornish’s first foray into film-making has been pretty glowing, but having been burnt in the past by believing the hype I went into the film with an open mind. It paid off.

Set in deepest darkest Oval, the story follows a group of troublesome yoofs as they attempt to save mankind from a very dark black bunch of bitey aliens. Nurse Sam, posh stoner Brewis, and slob dealer Ron (Nick Frost) all get caught up in the action and some unlikely camaraderie comes about.

Despite the film wanting to be too many things at once (the film contains nods to B movie horrors but then some slick sci-fi effects, occasional film noir-esque lighting and an out-of-place opening title sequence reminiscent of Star Wars) Cornish creates a wonderfully ludicrous situation in a mundane setting that the viewer can’t help but romp along with. Our new director also presents us with a load of new acting talent playing the teenage gang – most notably John Boyega (hoodie leader Moses) who gives a truly outstanding performance. With a healthy dose of both tension and comedy, Attack the Block is a good fun flick that you should definitely catch while it’s on the big screen.
P.S  I did notice one big plot-hole. When you’ve seen the film, come back and read this, below. See if you agree…

SPOILER ALERT: Did anyone else wonder why the aliens were trying to kill rather than hump all the characters covered in pheromones? Thoughts please.